ďMarry In The LordĒ†† Genesis 24:1-9††††††† September 20, 2009

 

SI:Weíve been studying the life of Abraham, Genesis chapters 12-25.

Heís called the father of those who believe.

†† His life is a pattern of faith in Christ.

†† Weíre nearing the end of Abrahamís story.

This chapter is about the last great task of Abrahamís lifeó

†† a task he entrusted to his most loyal servantógetting a wife for Isaac.

†† Weíre going to spend two Sundays on this.Start with first nine verses.

 

INTRO: When I was going away to college, my mother kept dropping hints

†† that I needed to meet a girl named Michelle.She was the daughter of some

†† old friends of my folks.And she was going to be a freshman too.

I knew mother was trying to plan my future,

†† and I also knew that she would not let up

†† until there was some satisfactory news about Michelle.

 

So I found Michelle the first few weeks of college, and introduced myself,

†† and I spent some time getting to know her and I soon discovered my way out.

†† The key that would lock the door forever on the Michelle Siegenthaler project.

 

When I came home for Thanksgiving, mother worked their old friends into

†† the conversation and then casually asked if I had met Michelle.

She was surprised when I said that I had met her and had spend some time with her.

†† Oh, mother said, is she a cute girl?Yes, sheís a tall redhead.

 

Then I dropped the bomb:Mother, Iíve also found her to be very, very moody.

†† And in that moment, I had the rare delight of seeing mother at a loss for words.

Because one of the other instructions she had for me when I went to college wasó

†† Iíve told you this beforeóSon, donít marry a moody girl.

So there was this internal struggle between my motherís desire and her principles.

†† And finally her principles won out and she said something like,

Well, we canít have that!

†† And she never bugged me about Michelle again.

 

We all have opinions about who people should choose for a spouse,

†† and what makes people compatible, and how old they should be,

†† and how long they should date, or be engaged,

†† and when people should get married, and when they should wait.

Just this week someone was telling me about a couple they know.

†† They want to get married, but she has another year or two of college,

†† and her parents are saying wait.

That reminds me of a recent article in Christianity Today.

†† Was about the problems caused by postponing marriage for things like education.

And how Christians should re-think the way weíve bought into this value that says,

†† donít get married until you finish your education.

Iím sure we could get into some very interesting discussions and arguments

†† about what we think is best.

 

If you know the rest of Genesis 24, (weíll read it next Sunday),

†† you know that Abrahamís servant finds a wife for Isaac.He finds Rebecca.

†† She was in her early teens.

Do you know how old Isaac was?He was 40.

†† What do you think about that?

†† A 40 year old man marrying a 15 year old virgin?

Iím sure we could get into some very opinionated discussions about that.

 

There was a man in seminary with me who was in his early 20s.

†† He married a woman who had been his teacher in jr. high.

He was walking around campus with her and we couldnít figure out who she was.

†† We could tell she wasnít quite old enough to be his mother.

†† But the way he had his arm around her, we were hoping she wasnít his sister.

When we found out the whole story, we had lots of opinions about that!

†† We wondered if it would hurt him in getting a church.

 

But in spite of all of the factors that we think are required or necessary

†† for marriage, you can search the Bible high and low and you will not find any

†† commands about how old you have to be to get married, or similarity of age,

†† or compatibility of personalities, or common interests, or length of courtship.

The Bible also says nothing and implies nothing

†† about marrying within your race or within your social or economic class.

The Bible gives lots of wisdom that illuminates these thingsóbut no commands.

††

There is only one command that the Bible gives regarding the choice of a spouse.

Itís first expressed by Abraham, in these verses, and then it is repeated over and

†† over in a variety of different forms throughout the Bible.

Believers must marry in the Lord.Christians must marry Christians.

 

Swear to me, Abraham says to his chief servant, by the Lord, the God of heaven and

†† earth.Put your hand under my thigh and swear to me (like hand on Bible),

†† that you will not get a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanitesó

†† but that you will get him a wife from my people.

 

Not stated, but reason is clear and even more clearly spelled out later.

†† Itís because Canaanites werenít believers, but Abrahamís family knew the Lord.

That desire of Abraham was the will of God not just for Isaac,

†† but for all believers and their children throughout redemptive history.

†† Because to marry in the Lord is an act of faith in the covenant promises of God.

 

This is a matter of huge importance that has repercussions for generations.

†† The Lord, in his grace, has made it know to us.

So letís look at this passage and this subject under three points.

1.The reason Christians must marry in the Lord.

2.The warnings against marrying outside the faith.

3.How you must trust God in order to obey this commandment

 


 

MP#1The reason Christians must marry in the Lord.

We could just sayóBecause God commands it.

This command is stated negatively throughout the Old Testament.

†† Do not marry the pagan people around you.

†† Do not give your daughters to their sons and do not take their daughters

†† to be your sonsí wives.

 

You find that command in Deuteronomy, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi.

†† Itís also implied in 2 Corinthians when Paul says not to be unequally yoked.

And we get the positive phrase that believers must ďmarry in the LordĒ

†† from 1 Corinthians 7.

 

But why has God given this command?Whatís the deeper reason?

Christians must marry in the Lord because God delights in pouring out his grace

†† along the lines of generations.

He pours out his grace on our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren

†† to a thousand generations of those who love him.

 

Marriage is the context of parenthood.

†† And parenthood is the primary means of grace by which children are born

†† within the covenant and then brought to faith in Christ and taught

†† to love God and his laws.

So by marrying in the Lord, Christians are taking an important step to ensure

†† the continuation of Godís covenant in the generations that are to come

long after we are gone.

 

Look at the way Abraham expressed this.Look at verse 7 again:

†† ďThe Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my fatherís house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ĎTo our offspring I will give this land . . .í

 

Who was Abraham concerned for?Not just for Isaac.

†† He was not just concerned that Isaac make a good marriage to a believing girl.

†† He was looking beyond Isaac to his offspring yet unborn.Future generations.

Abraham was thinking about Godís promise to give his offspring the land.

 

We know from our study of Abraham over these months that Abraham

†† knew that the land was more than the land of Canaan.He was looking for

†† the city with foundations.Remember Hebrews 11?

 

Abraham was looking forward by faith to the inheritance of heaven

†† and redeemed creation.He knew that from his side of that covenant promise,

†† he had to do all he could to ensure a line of believers.

And through that, blessings flow to generations.

†† And through those generations of believers Godís kingdom is advanced,

†† and the nations are blessed through the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

 

Thatís huge, isnít it?We donít usually think that way.

†† We donít look at a marriage and then look with eyes of faith down

through future generations yet unborn.

For us marriage is so immediate.Itís just about the couple, and their happiness.

†† And then when children come along, they are part of the mix.

†† But Abraham by faith said:Iím going to continue a line that will bless the world.

 

Youíve heard the name Jonathan Edwards, Iím sure.He was Americaís greatest

†† theologian, leader of the first Great Awakening.Born around 1700.

He was 20 when he fell in love with Sarah Pierrepont.She was (ahem) 13.

†† He was painfully formal, did not know how to be romantic, wanted to always

†† pull her off into serious conversations.She was beautiful, popular, life of party.

But they had this in commonóboth loved Jesus, utterly devoted to him.

†† After courting four years, they got married and had 3 sons and 8 daughters.

†† And their home was full of faith.

 

About 200 years later, in 1900, there was a study of all known descendants

†† of Jonathan and Sarah and this is what that study found.

66 physicians, 30 judges, 100 attorneys, 65 college professors, 13 college presidents, 3 mayors of large cities, 3 U.S. senators, one President of the U.S.

†† And the study also found ďplatoonsĒ of descendants in the pastoral ministry,

†† and over 100 foreign missionaries.

 

Through this obedient marriage of a Christian man and woman, Godís grace

†† flowed to generations they could not see.Every single individual descendant

†† of Sarah and Jonathan were not born again, but a great many were.

And they glorified Christ, advanced his kingdom, and blessed the world

†† in their various callings.

 

Remember, especially young people, God delights in pouring out his grace along

†† the lines of generations.Your obedient decision to marry someone who loves Jesus will be used by him to bless generations yet unborn.Thatís a promise.

God shows his grace to us in promises, and also in warnings.So letís turn now to

MP#2The warnings against marrying outside the faith.

Before we do, I need to make a very important qualification.

 

There are often Christians who find themselves, through conversion, in mixed

†† marriages. One spouse becomes a Christian and the other does not.

There is nothing wrong with that.Paul says in 1 Corinthians, stay in that marriage.

†† Lord will extend special grace to you and your children.

In fact, there are a number of great men of the church whose mothers were in

†† exactly that kind of mixed marriage.Augustineís mother Monica,

†† and Chrysostomís mother Anthusia are just two examples.

They were pagan Roman women, became Christians, stayed married to their pagan

†† husbands and had an incredible impact for the kingdom of God by praying

†† for their sons to come to Christ.

Donít be discouraged if you are in a mixed marriage through your conversion.

 

And sometimes two professing Christians will get married, and both give every

†† evidence of being a Christian, but one will apostatize and leave the faith.

Thatís very sad but there is nothing wrong for the Christian spouse to be in

†† that marriage, stay in that marriage.It wasnít a choice that he or she made.

†† God will give you grace and he will protect your children.

 

But to choose marriage to an unbeliever is an act of high-handed rebellion.

And the Lord gives sober warnings to believers who deliberately,

†† against the pleadings of Christian friends and family, marry outside the faith.

His warning is this:Your marriage will degrade and weaken your faith

†† and will likely break the covenant line with your children.

 

Itís a fantasy to say that if I marry this unbeliever Iíll convert him.

The testimony of Scripture over an over is that when a believer flaunts this

†† command of God, the believer does not make the unbeliever more holy,

†† the unbeliever makes the believer less holy.

 

This is a spiritual law that is taught and illustrated numerous times in the Bible.

The premier example that is often cited in Scripture is Solomon.1 Kings 11:

†† ďAs Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully

†† devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.Ē

If marriage outside the faith turned Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived,

†† a man who heard Godís voice and promise, do you think it wonít turn you?

An unbelieving spouse might be the nicest, most decent, hard-working person

†† youíve ever known.In fact, he probably is if you married him.

But think about what a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever means

†† in spiritual terms.

One is going to heaven, the other is going to hell.

†† One loves God, the other hates him.

†† One loves his Word and law and seeks to live by them,

††† the other cares nothing for those things.

†† One is living under the power of the Spirit, one is not.

What fellowship does light have with darkness, asks Paul.

 

If you are a Christian, who is your father?God is.

†† Jesus taught us to pray:ďOur Father who art in heaven.Ē

If you are an unbeliever, who is your father?

†† What did Jesus say to those who refused to believe in him?

†† He said, your father is the Devil.Think what that means for marriage.

 

One preacher put it this way:

ďBy marrying a child of the Devil, you are choosing the Devil for your father-in-law and for your childrenís grandfather, when in the covenant, you could have had the God of Abraham instead.Ē

 

And that brings up the matter of your children.What effect will your marriage likely have on them?What does the Bible say?Deuteronomy 7 speaks to that.

†† ďDo not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lordís anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.Ē

 

We donít have time to read all the places this is repeated in Scripture.

Children already have within them a tendency toward unbelief and disobedience.

†† In a mixed marriage, that tendency is enforced by one of the most powerful

†† influences in their livesóa mom or dad.

 

Those are hard words, arenít they?Warnings of Scripture are never easy to hear.

†† But the Lord warns us because he loves us.

Why do you call out to your children when they head out with their friendsó

†† Be careful!Because you love them.And your concern is their physical safety.

The Lordís concern is the spiritual well-being of you, your children, and

†† generations yet unborn.Listen to him.

 

And trust him.Thatís the last point.This is such a difficult command that

MP#3You must trust the Lord in order to obey it.

Abraham says to his servant:Swear to me you will get Isaac a wife from among

†† my people who knows the Lord. Swear you will never let him marry a Canaanite.

Servant says:OK, but what if I canít get a god-fearing girl from your

†† home country to come back with me and marry Isaac?

Do you want me to take him back to your home country?

†† Abraham says No!Never do that.Never take him out of the Promised Land.

†† To leave the Promised Land was a symbol of denying your faith.

 

Then Abraham says something amazing.

†† The Lord will send his angel ahead of you to get a wife for Isaac.

But if she wonít come back with you, weíre still not going to leave the Promised

†† Land, and heís still not going to marry a Canaanite.

In other words, Even if there is no wife for Isaac, no prospects as far as we can see,

†† weíre going to keep trusting the Lord rather than take matters into our own hands.

 

How was Abraham able to say that?There are few areas in life that are as

†† important as marriage and so closely tied to our hopes and dreams for the future.

The clue is Abrahamís comment about the Lord sending his angel.

†† Who is the angel of the Lord?Heís the pre-incarnate Son of God.

†† Heís the Lord Jesus Christ making an Old Testament appearance.

 

Abraham had several important encounters with the Angel of the Lord,

†† but the most significant by far was on Mt. Moriah.

When he told Abraham not to slay his son, and then provided a ram as substitute.

†† A substitute that pointed forward to the future sacrifice of Godís own Son.

And Abraham knew that if he could trust the Lord for salvation, then he

†† could certainly trust him in this matter of his sonís marriage.

 

If Jesus Christ has died on the cross for your sins, if he has saved you from hell

†† by his substitutionary death.And if God the Father loves you that much,

†† then you can trust him that this command regarding marriage is good.

And as hard as it may be, you can walk in obedience.

 

Four specific applications:

1.Trust the Lord to provide a Christian spouse for your children.

Make that a matter of prayer for your children.Tell them what God wants.

†† Perhaps the parents of that future son or daughter-in-law are praying too.

And if you are single and wanting to get married.Ask God for a spouse.

†† Husbands and wives are gifts from God.Ask him for one.

And as you do, follow Abrahamís example by sayingóeven if the Lord

†† delays or even if he decides for his own reasons to not grant my request,

†† Iím going to obey him by not lowering my standards and marrying a Canaanite.

 

2.Trust the Lord the give you boldness with Christians who are in danger

†† of marrying unbelievers.

Dating and engagement are such emotional matters, that itís very easy back

†† off and say, I donít want to offend this person or make him mad at me.

But when it comes to a Christian you know moving toward marriage with

†† and unbeliever, you donít have a choice.You have to get involved.

You must speak the truth in loveówhether it is your own children or

†† a Christian friend.There is too much at stake to let it slide.

 

This is especially important in our church.Donít leave it up to me.

†† I will tell people, and I have told people, that as a Christian they canít marry this

†† person, but itís much more effective if it comes from you first.

 

3.Trust the Lord to speak through other Christians concerning the spiritual

†† condition of the person you want to marry.

There are few areas in life more prone to self-deception than romance.

†† Christians arenít immune.Many a Christian has claimed that the person he

†† or she wants to marry is a Christian, when in fact there is no evidence of real faith

†† in Christ.There is no fruit.There is no love for Christ and his church.

And your Christian friends and parents can see that lack of faith plain as day,

†† but you canít.Prove your trust in God by trusting their judgment.

 

4.Trust the Lord to redeem Christians you love who have disobeyed this

†† command.There are few things more distressing than thisó

†† when a believer you know and love marries outside the faith.

Maybe you warned him.But his mind was made up, and you just have to

†† watch the years roll and the negative spiritual effects on him and his children.

 

But the Lord can redeem anything.He can bring his people back through

†† repentance.He can work all things for the good of those who love him.

†† Trust him for that.Pray for that.

Isaac married well, but he had a grandson who didnítóJudah.

†† Judah married a Canaanite woman.Itís one of the ugliest stories in the Bible.

You can read it in Genesis 38.,His marriage degraded and weakened his faith.

So much so that for years, decades, he lived apart from the people of God,

†† he pulled away from the church.

And he had sons who didnít know the Lord.Instead they adopted their motherís

†† Canaanite ways.Two of them were so wicked, that the Lord put them to death.

 

And finally, Judah sank so low that he had sex with his widowed

†† daughter-in-law, who had disguised herself as a Canaanite shrine prostitute,

†† and she became pregnant from that encounter.

Then when Judah found out she was pregnant, he had no idea that was the father.

In a fit of blind self-righteousness, he ordered her burned to death for immorality.

 

Thatís how low this grandson of Isaac, this great-grandson of Abraham sank.

But it was at that lowest point, that the Lord came to him, and gave him

†† a vision of his sinfulness, and how he had squandered his spiritual heritage.

And Judah came back to the Lord, got back into fellowship with Godís people,

†† And the rest of Genesis tells of the incredible way he was used to heal the rifts

†† that had formed in is family.

 

And after his daughter-in-law gave birth to his children, twin boysó

†† he raised them in the faith, and the covenant line was reconnected.

And do you know who came from that line?Jesus Christ.

 

What can come from the disobedience of marrying outside the faithó

†† through Godís grace and repentance, Jesus can come from that.

†† So hope and pray for that concerning the person you love.

 

Old hymn says:

Let children hear the mighty deeds Which God performed of old;

Which in our younger years we say, And which our fathers told.

 

He bids us make his glories known, His works of power and grace;

And weíll convey his wonders down Through every rising race.

 

Our lips shall tell them to our sons, And they again to theirs;

That generations yet unborn May teach them to their heirs.

 

Thatís the God we serve.The God who loves us, and our children,

†† and grandchildren to a thousand generation.

†† A God who calls us to trust him in this, by marrying in the faith.